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I think the Anaheim Ducks, winners of the Pacific Division in four consecutive seasons, will be a Wild Card team if they make the playoffs at all.
Bruce Boudreau was one of the very best coaches in the NHL so his absence would hurt regardless of the replacement. Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler have all started to slow down and I think that trend will continue this season.
There's also the fact that the Ducks' depth up front is significantly worse than a year ago. David Perron, Jamie McGinn, Chris Stewart, Brandon Pirri, Mike Santorelli and co. are all gone and the Ducks didn't do much to replace them.
I love the Ducks' defense core - I think that will keep them competitive - but I think the team will take a big step back this season.
I don't even think this is a "bold" prediction; I think it will really happen: The Oilers will win the division. Three deep forward lines, an underrated goalie and a defense that is much better than credited.
I think this upcoming season is going to be filled with articles about how the Oilers finally turned it around. They're going to be a hard team to play against because McDavid is going to be even better than he was last year.
Oilers for the tile, with McDavid winning the Hart and Art Ross.
One of the big 3 California teams misses the playoffs.
You could honestly right a good and logical narrative for any of them.
The Sharks have trouble dealing with the extremely shortened offseason, compounded by the World Cup of Hockey. Thornton, Burns, Pavelski etc. have trouble with fatigue etc. etc.
The Ducks endure the struggles of the John Gibson starter era, and also see decline from their dynamic duo of Perry/Getzlaf. They don't have the supporting cast to overcome.
The Kings see diminished quality from their aging core and never replace the goalscoring lost by Milan Lucic.
All of them are possibilities honestly. I think if we are going bold, I'd say one of those comes true and we see one of the three, San Jose, Anaheim, or LA, miss the playoffs. Maybe couple that with an on the rise Calgary or Edmonton squeaking in instead.
Pacific is home to my former team and long time provider of suffering the Vancouver Canucks. I don't think anything bold happens to them unless it's finishing dead last and winning the lottery.
My bold prediction is that the Oilers and the Flames are going to battle it out for a playoff spot with one getting in and the other missing. Yeah real bold but the Pacific is rather boring aside from Anaheim, LA and SJ. So there you go battle of Alberta with some high stakes right at the end.
Central Division bold predictions
Metro Division breakout players
Atlantic Division breakout players
Pacific Division breakout players
Central Division breakout players
Who will win the Calder in 2016-17?
Who will win the Hart in 2016-17?
Who will win the Vezina in 2016-17?
Who will win the Norris in 2016-17?